Friday 23 April 2010

Friday Flash - The Dead Do Listen

You can now find this flash in its new home at Everyday Weirdness!

Wednesday 21 April 2010

In which Icy posts her handwriting

Tuesday 20 April 2010

Progress on my serial

Friday will be the tenth week that I will be hitting 'Publish' on my web serial, Tales from Vertigo City. In honour of that, I thought I might write a blog entry about the serial, to hopefully explain more about it.

The idea behind the serial was to write a series of tales, all set in the fictional city of Vertigo. In my head, the city looks like a cross between a 1940s Art Deco metropolis and Victorian London. People travel by tram or hackney carriage, although tradespeople prefer to use a cart. There is even a neighbourhood for the Living Dead, who are essentially the former upper middle class who refuse to relinquish their status, even after death. I suppose I'm going for a twist on the steampunk theme.

The current run of installments are part of The First Tale. The idea for this came from a short flash I wrote about an antique generator that powered a Resistance movement. People wanted to know more, so I decided to write a serial, updated weekly.

So far in the story, Philip Wiseman has been grudgingly accepted into the movement after a stranger infiltrated the sewers and underground tunnels that make up the Resistance territory beneath the sprawling city. After being accused of being a spy, and surviving a close encounter with a bloodthirsty beast, Philip ends up back on the streets. This time he accompanies Commander Melissa Hunt (or Liss for short) to try and discover who the stranger was, and why he was in the Resistance tunnels.

I'm really enjoying writing it, but I admit that it's very much 'seat of the pants' writing. I only have the plot in mind for the next two or three installments at a time. What happens is as much as surprise as it is to readers! I consider the serial to be something of an experiment, but hopefully an enjoyable one. People often complain that they don't have enough time to read, and short stories published online are often too long to take in during one sitting, so I'm hoping that The First Tale's episodic nature, and the brief nature of these episodes, makes it an enjoyable read.

It's also good for me since having a deadline gives me the motivation to write every week, so even if I write nothing else, I've at least continued the story and built a little more of Vertigo City. It also gives me a place to use those small elements or images that pop into my head, but aren't big enough to sustain a story on their own. Who knows, maybe those small elements that I plant now will go on to become major tales in their own right?

Sunday 18 April 2010

House Plants

I never thought of myself as having green fingers, but after working in an office festooned with pot plants and ferns, I came around the the idea of trying to grow something myself. Basil, rosemary, a grape hyacinth and African violets all lasted a while, but not really knowing what I was doing came to be a bit of a problem. I love the colours and smells of house plants, so I've finally invested in a couple of books about caring for them.

I took myself off to Homebase on Saturday, where I ended up buying a miniature rose (see left). Due to bad associations, I don't like being given roses, but I still think they're one of the prettiest roses in the garden (or, in my case, living room). I chose the peach variety because it looked to be the healthiest in the garden centre, and it's such a cheerful little plant. The Victorians were very keen on the 'language of flowers', encoding messages in the flowers they sent. According to this language, the peach rose represents immortality and modesty.

I also went for a gardenia. The smell is amazing, which means it's a pleasure to walk in my front door. The gardenia means 'refinement' and 'purity', but I think they're just beautiful looking plants. Apparently they like a lot of natural light, but not direct sunlight, so my gardenia now sits on my writing table. I'm hoping it provides some form of inspiration or creative stimulus when I sit down to scribble.

My third choice of the day turned out to be an Easter cactus. My mum has had the Christmas variety for years, and as my windowsills get a lot of daylight, so I figured I'd give the Easter variety a go. As the name implies, they flower between January and April. They need both a rest period, and time outdoors in the shade, to ensure they flower again, and they have such pretty flowers that I'm hoping I can entice mine to do exactly that. Cacti of all kinds represent endurance, which is quite apt considering I'm hoping to apply that to my writing career, so here's to hoping my cactus makes itself at home and goes from strength to strength.

My final plant is slightly older, by a fortnight or so. I bought a gerbera, of the daisy family, in Tesco (of all places) and since repotting it, it has gone from strength to strength! It's a beautiful, cheerful little flower, and represents innocence. The petals have also changed colour - they were dark orange when I first bought it, and now they've turned a deep pink colour.

I'm hoping that I manage to keep them all alive, because they really do improve the atmosphere of my flat. That's my home, and also where I do most of my writing, and anything that improves the environment has got to be a good thing.

What, if anything, have you done to boost your creative space?